Book

Where ideas go to die (2020)

in: Oxford scholarship online

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Abstract

Where Ideas Go to Die explores the troubled relationship of US journalism and intellect. A defender of common sense, the press is irked at intellect yet often dependent on its critical autonomy. The social control of intellect by journalism is accompanied by social control of journalism in newsrooms and in classrooms where norms are cultivated. Anti-intellectualism consequently operates like dark matter in media, a presence inferred by its effects rather than directly observed or acknowledged. When journalists anticipate a punitive public, the reified resentment is no more real than the fiction of omnipotent citizens in democratic theory, yet the audience imagined compels how intellect is rendered in the news as nuisance, deviance, or object of ridicule. Interviews with 25 "dangerous professors" demonstrate how alliances in the academic-media nexus can seed intellect in newswork.